Why the ‘Selfie of the Year’ Might Do Wonders for Endangered Gorillas

The latest selfie breaking the internet is garnering great support for an anti-poaching group in Congo.
Mumbai, India
April 23, 2019, 12:59pm
Gorilla selfie
The gorillas at Virunga Park pose for a selfie with the ranger who saved them as babies. Photo: The Elite AntiPoaching Units And Combat Trackers/Facebook

This article originally appeared on VICE India.

We’ve all had enough of our social media being flooded with heavily filtered faces and hashtags that say #WokeUpLikeThis; However, the newest selfie doing the rounds is really as wild as it gets.

Over the weekend, a selfie involving two gorillas with on-point poses posted by their caretaker Mathieu Shamavu—a park ranger at the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who rescued them when they were babies—went viral real quick, gaining almost 40,000 likes on Instagram and more than 20,000 shares on Facebook. And while the adorable upright animals that identify as mountain gorillas have got a great selfie game, there's a bigger reason these natural posers deserve all our attention.

The mountain gorilla is a critically endangered species and these two "cheeky gals" happen to be two of the 1,000 remaining ones in the world, most of which can be found inhabiting this park. This species was on the edge of extinction because people wouldn’t stop poaching and destroying their natural habitats. In fact, Innocent Mburanumwe, the deputy director of Virunga, even told the BBC that these specific gorillas display human-like tendencies because they were orphaned after poachers killed their mothers back in July 2007, and have been brought up by humans at the gorilla orphanage ever since.

And ever since this wholesome selfie—called 'Selfie of the Year' by Yvonne Ndege, a former BBC journalist now working for the UN in Kenya—began breaking the internet, there’s been a whole lot of love being sent their way with many realizing the importance of the work by these wildlife conservationists and pledging to donate to their cause.

It has also raised awareness around the world about the dire situation in Eastern Congo, where there’s an ongoing conflict between the government and various armed groups. Not only has this conflict led to five rangers being killed by rebel forces last year, but these armed groups are also the ones who frequently poach animals in the park.

So while it’s great to see everyone go crazy over a selfie of two gorillas, it’s even better when viral content can impact change.

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